Unfortunately, our time in Ecuador did not end as well as I wanted. I started hearing rumors among the missionary community that the pastor I worked with was abusive towards his wife. I couldn't believe it, he seemed like such a nice guy. He seemed to be kind and friendly. I had however noticed that his wife had bruises on her wrists at times.
I had some doubts about him before I heard these rumors. I knew that he kept a file on various people in the community as I came upon it accidentally one time in the church office. It was filled with comments and remarks about certain individuals and seemed kinda inappropriate coming from a pastor. Yet, I put it back and didn't say anything about it.
He also had several snakes he kept in his office that he had picked up from the Amazon while traveling back and forth there. I don't care for snakes but I don't think it's particularly unusual to have snakes for pets. What was strange, for me, was he would let them out and they would crawl around the office, often laying up on the window sill sunning themselves or chasing the many lizards that were available.
Thirdly, he didn't seem particularly friendly to Ecuadorians who would drop by the office. Some he would make fun of but usually he ushered them out of the office waiting area. I think that it was mainly because he hardly spoke Spanish, in spite of having lived there a number of years. That was really odd to me... Living in a country and not learning the language.
Finally, he told me about his Christmas sermon that he wrote. The subject was unusual, it was about how Satan was present during the birth of Christ. He told me that he wrote his sermon, almost automatically. He said that he put the pen in his hand and the words just seemed to flow out on to the paper, without him giving it much thought. I wondered what was the inspiration for the sermon.
Yet, I kept those four things to myself. I only talked to Karyn about them.
I finally decided that I needed to ask him about the rumors I was hearing about him being abusive. I was NOT accusing him. My mistake was that I should have confided in a board member and had a board member present when I spoke with him. As I told him what I heard, I could see him getting red in the face, his nostrils flared and his hands clenched. I thought he was going to hit me. He demanded that I tell him where I heard such horrible rumors and I told him that I wouldn't tell him but that I thought he deserved to know that people were saying such things about him.
I thought that was the end of it, I believed that possibly, those rumors weren't true. However, the next morning, my suspicions were confirmed. When I got to the office, he was standing at his office window laughing at an Ecuadorian woman who was going thru the church trash. He was laughing because all of a sudden, she jumped and ran off. I asked him what was so funny. He said, "I had to kill one of my snakes because he bit me and I had him in the trash there. She found it and it scared her. Being raised on a farm, I learned early that when something turns on you, you kill it." Then he had a big grin on his face. I left his office and went to my office to think about what just happened. The timing was unmistakable. I decided to write a letter to my missions board letting them know what was going on. In less than a week, I got a reply, "We think it's better you just come home."
When I told this pastor that my missions board was calling us back early, he said, "don't think that means that you can play. You still have a lot of people to see here. If you have an appointment or not, I want you sitting in that office." I protested as this was new behavior. Before, he said if I didn't have appointments, I could go home to Karyn and the boys. Yet, I did comply. It was difficult as we had to make plans to move back to the States and that required some coordination with Karyn and we needed to get rid of things in our apartment that we wouldn't take back with us. Nevertheless, because I'm married to such a capable spouse, we managed to successfully move and were gone within a month.
Once we got back in the States, I heard that he got transferred to another church in the US and there he experienced a divorce. I don't know the particulars and I was saddened to hear it. I was saddened because that showed that his marriage was troubled. If he could have confided in me, I could have possibly helped him save his marriage. I really liked his wife and his children and him. I can imagine that this divorce was very disruptive to his family and probably ended his career as an ordained minister. I haven't heard since the divorce what happened to him or his family but I still pray that God would move in his life so that he experiences true forgiveness and reconciliation.
BE A MAN.
In 1992-1993 we were missionaries in Ecuador. I have worshiped with people from many different cultures and have enjoyed the different ways that Christians engage in worship. I remember one service in Esmeraldas that had a very African flavor to it and another in Guayaquil that was a tropical, Latin mix. I thoroughly enjoyed both and could tell that these were ernest Christians who REALLY enjoyed worship.
On another occasion we went to Riobamba to a church high in the Andes mountains. What I experienced there was quite different. We had traveled there to visit some people from America that were on a work trip to the area and wanted to make some friends. We had eaten supper together with them and the Quechua folk of that church. When we went to worship, we were fortunate to have a teen choir lead us in worship. The worship was more formal and the singing was in a very nasally, high voice. It was in the Quechua language so I had difficulty understanding what they were singing.
I was young, proud and had my wife and kids with me. After the service one of the Americans came over to me and we were talking about the service. I said something about the service that I shouldn't have said. I said, "that music was gross!" It popped out and I didn't take it back. I was instantly convicted but was too stiff-necked to listen to God's Holy Spirit's chastening. After all, I was the missionary, they were just people visiting.
I have thought about my bad comment over the years, trying to analyze why I would say something like that. Now, I know that one of the tricks that Satan uses is to keep reminding Christians of their faults and sins to keep them feeling condemned and ineffective. I have been forgiven for my statement and my attitude and when I think about what I said, I still get a twinge of guilt but then I am reminded that was in the past and forgiven.
I recognized that I had in my mind certain ways that I approved of how worship was to be done. This third church, in Riobamba, stretched me and didn't fit my preconceived notions. I was clearly wrong. I have prayed that the young American that I talked to (I have no recollection who he was) would not remember my insensitivity but the good things of his time in Ecuador.
Now it is 2013 and I am miles aways and 20 years away from that event. I have worshiped in several other cultures and other churches and have come to believe that I have put away such preconceptions. I no longer have the feeling that a certain style of worship is gross. I have matured. I have become more Christlike.
But have I? Have I really progressed?
I was recently at a worship service where we were lead by a worship team that had a decidedly "country" flavor to it. Part way thru this experience, I excused myself. As I walked past the sound booth, a friend asked me, "how do you like the worship team?" I said, "I am not a fan of country music..." I felt instant conviction, very similar to how I felt in Riobamba when I ignored the Holy Spirit. I immediately followed it with, "but I see that others are worshiping and the team is really doing a good job, so I can't complain. I'm trying to worship too."
OK. That was a bit better.
Then I was reminded of a statement, I don't know where I heard it, that says, "If your life is divided up between what you like and don't like and you just do what you like & avoid what you don't like, you're gonna have a miserable existence." That statement is sooooo true. I close myself up to God's ability to work in my life if I just simply become opinionated about everything and complain/avoid things I don't care for.
So, I'm trying, I'm improving, I'm getting better, my intent is improving, my heart's getting into it....
but I still have a long way to go...
BE A MAN.
Today at Church our Pastor talked about how as Christians we need to take the opportunity to carry people in their time of need. Although this isn’t a physical action, it does require effort. The action of carrying someone means to take someone and they are down in a valley or having a hard time and walking alongside them. Now your responsibility is to only walk with them as far as you are capable of, then someone else will take over. I got the opportunity today to carry someone. I’m not telling this story to toot my own horn, but to show the power of God!
I was at the gas station earlier and I saw a guy standing outside the door. I had never met him before and I don’t even know his name. He was holding an empty gas can. I asked him if he needed help, and he said “I am begging for change so I can get gas, I need to get to the south side of town and get some money from my mom so I can feed my children.” Now there is a disclaimer that comes with this. I usually don’t help people in this situation. This is because I know we don’t have a lot of money. But something made me go back to our van and get him some change. But something stopped me and I proceeded to take him over to the gas pump and fill his gas can up. He then proceeded to tell me that his car was down the street parked at an apartment complex. So I ran inside and purchased what I came for and took him home. The Lord changed my heart and my attitude during this experience. I got the opportunity to carry someone in their time of need. So I ask you who have you carried lately?This post was written by Ironstrikes member, NazyP. For the original post, go to: http://fpccnazyp.wordpress.com/2013/10/20/who-have-you-carried-lately/
I wanted to tell you one story I encountered at Shepherd Community Center. It’s about Curtis Adkins, who when growing up looked like a tragedy waiting to happen.
His father left the family. They moved every three to four months in the city. Adkins would switch schools and fall behind, so school officials put him in classes for learning disabilities.
By middle school Adkins thought of himself as a troublemaker, and so did school authorities. He was expelled from one school and sent to another one. He landed in juvenile court on minor charges. He tried drugs, abused alcohol, and got kicked out of his mother’s house.
As a homeless teen, Adkins stayed on friends’ couches. Often that profile adds up to a life of crime and prison—but this young man also bumped into people who wanted to help him. A family took him in for a year, on the condition that he join the Shepherd Community Center. There he heard about the small Indianapolis Christian School, where he benefited from small class sizes and tutoring.
Adkins worked at Shepherd and the school to pay tuition. He learned to work at small goals instead of big dreams. He’d earn just enough money for the next semester’s tuition. He would master a basic English or math skill he had missed in earlier years.
Yet it wasn’t always a smooth ride, for Adkins or the people assisting him. Shepherd director Jay Height came to see why Adkins had been booted out of school. “He was obnoxious,” Height recalled. “I kicked him out when he was first here.”
Another family recommended that he join them on a short mission trip to serve in Bolivia. “I thought I was poor, staying with people here and there,” Adkins said. “Then I went to a Third World country and saw kids without shoes and moms raising their kids in the street.”
He also saw a new side of Christian faith. Adkins had tried to improve himself to please God: “Before that trip I felt to accept Christ that I would have to change so much in my life. My life would have to be perfect.”
He discovered a different perspective in Bolivia. “I realized that Christ loved me in spite of my sins,” Adkins said. “It wasn’t about ourselves or what we were doing, but it was about what God was doing.”
Adkins does not recall a dramatic conversion. Rather, he had seen many believers show him the love of Christ. Their perseverance in that love was a big factor in his journey.
Some teachers had advised Adkins to forget about college and consider a trade school. He was scared to think about college. But friends at Shepherd thought he could make it, especially after he discovered his audio learning style and made more progress in school. He also fell in love with soccer and wound up playing at Ohio Valley University in West Virginia.
Small goals helped him not get discouraged. He kept his GPA above 2.0 to stay on the soccer team, eventually graduating cum laude.
Adkins is now 31, married, with two children and a stable job. These days he serves at Shepherd Community Center, attempting to steer other at-risk children and teens to the straight-and-narrow path. Jay Height sees Adkins as an important part of a team aiming to break multi-generational poverty on the East Side of urban Indianapolis. “He’s helping us shape our programs because he’s been there,” Height said. “He’s improving our diversity of voice to include those who are the first generation out of poverty.”
When tempted to give up, friends who had helped him encouraged Adkins to change course: “I started moving in the right direction because I didn’t want to let these people down.” Now he wants to do something similar for those in the same part of Indianapolis: “People invested in my life at Shepherd. I felt like it was part of my job to come back and invest in the lives of others.”
Adkins doesn’t see himself as a self-made man. He’s grateful to the Lord and friends who came alongside him in times of need.
This post was written by Russ Pulliam for World Magazine. You can find the original post at: http://www.worldmag.com/2013/08/how_christ_changed_a_life
BE A MAN.
My dad was a minister in a church. My uncles were ministers. My cousin’s a minister. About thirty of my best friends are, or were, ministers.
I was a minister, until I quit seven years ago. Probably forever.
It’s difficult being a minister. In the hard times, I always felt like many of the people in the church didn’t really understand us. Where our hearts were, how we were feeling, what our intentions were, how best to help us help the church. Which often felt dysfunctional. And I spent a lot of my down time thinking about a list of things I wish the church understood.
But while I was in the position, saying them would have sounded only like whining. Or it would have been uncomfortably vulnerable.
Now that I’m seven years removed from ministry, with no chance of returning, I want to offer some of these things to you who attend church regularly, hoping that they might be received in a different, more constructive spirit. I’ve really got nothing invested here any more, except love and respect for my brothers and sisters who do this for a living. And a hope that I can make someone’s life just a little better.
A disclaimer is in order. I ran these by a large handful of ministers this week, and most of them said something akin to ‘Yes, exactly
!’ But there were one or two who responded saying that they’ve had a different, better experience with ministry, and that most of these don’t apply to them. But I think it’s fair to say that about nine out of ten ministers relate strongly to most of what’s here.
It might also be weird that I’ve written them in the first person, as though I’m currently a minister. I’m not. But since I was born and bred and trained for it, and since I did it for so many years, I’m placing myself back into the fold for this post. Most of it comes from my own personal experience anyway.
So here’s what your minister wishes you understood. Give it a read, give it some thought, and give him or her a bigger hug than usual tomorrow morning.1. Our greatest fear is irrelevance.
It’s not losing our jobs, hurting your feelings, or accidentally saying the F word during a sermon. Those fears are there. But they are nothing compared to the nagging fear that what we say and do is making zero
difference in your life. That you are only showing up to church because of habit, or obligation, or mental illness. That we are laying ourselves bare to write and deliver a sermon every week that nobody is hearing. If your pastor has made an actual difference in your life ever
, by word or deed or example or friendship, take some time this week to let him or her know, in as much detail as you can. You cannot imagine how far that will go.2. We are mama’s boys.
Apologies to the female pastors, this one’s just about the guys. I’ve read studies that higher than 80 percent of male pastors say they are much closer to their mothers than their fathers. This has a lot of implications, and it explains why we’re more likely to play an instrument than fire a gun, have coffee with a friend than watch a game, read a book than restore an old Mustang. It also means that nobody in the church gets our attention as much as the old ladies, who can make or break our day with a kind word or a disapproving scowl. When you’re dealing with your male pastor, keep in mind that he’s more likely to speak the language of nurture over discipline, collaboration over competition, forgiveness over punishment. These aren’t things he learned in seminary, these are things he learned in diapers.3. S/he sees you when you’re sleeping.
Some people in the pews think there’s a two way mirror between them and the pulpit, that they can see the pastor but the pastor can’t see them. Wrong. We see you yawn, look at your phone, whisper something into your wife’s ear. Sleep. Which is fine. If we’re boring, it’s not your
fault, it’s ours. But just be aware that we see you, and that if
you can manage to at least look like you’re a little
more interested, it might actually feed some energy back to us and give us more zing. Energy goes two ways.4. We think about quitting a lot.
Behind closed doors, most ministers talk about moving on with regularity. The job is hard in a way that people who’ve never done it cannot understand. Not physically, or even mentally. But emotionally it can wreck you. I don’t fully understand why, although I have theories. But just know, when you’re choosing how to interact with her or him, that your pastor is probably hurting and tired and wishing s/he could quit. And that, in most cases, the only thing keeping him or her there is a sense of love and obligation to you. Be gentle, sensitive, and grateful for that.5. We envy people who can be themselves.
We wish we could cuss without it making headlines. We wish we could get drunk at a party, just once
, without it resulting in an elders meeting. We wish we could be enthusiastic about a hobby without people raising their eyebrows about how much time and money we’re spending on it. We wish we could make angry political remarks on Facebook. You know, all the things that you
feel free to do all the time
. You want us to be human, but not too
human. Believe me, we know. And it’s probably for the best that we are charged with setting a good example, it makes sense. But just know, we sometimes envy your freedom to just be yourself.6. We are often spiritually starving.
Probably the most closely guarded secret among pastors is how spiritually empty many of us are. Like a worker at the chocolate factory who no longer likes the taste of chocolate, or the prostitute who gets no pleasure from sex, we deal with spiritual matters so much that they often no longer have much meaning for us. Worship, for us, is a program that must be organized and executed. It’s work. It’s not for
us. It’s for you. And then, when we’re not ‘on,’ often the last thing we want to do is something spiritual. Because it reminds us of work. We can’t read the Bible without thinking of sermon ideas. We can’t pray without thinking of leading prayers. We can’t meet with other church people without talking shop. So we’d rather play golf, or watch TV, or anything else. Which ultimately leaves us empty. Not everyone, not always. But often.7. We are sinful, no different than you.
We don’t just think about sinning. We aren’t just tempted
to sin. We commit
sins. The same kind you do. Believe it. But also understand that this doesn’t make us less qualified to talk to you about sins, but more. If you’ve ever sat in the pew and heard a pastor rambling on about temptations and sin and thought, “Whatever, there’s no way
she understands what I’m dealing with,” think again. It’s very likely that she does, first hand. And that what she’s saying comes from her own life, not just from a book.8. We are lonely, because it’s hard to trust.
Pastors often have trust issues. As well they should. All pastors have heard stories about Reverend So-and-so who confided in someone in his church about his addiction to whatever, only to have that person tell the elders about it, which ultimately got him fired. It happens. We know it does. So every time we interact with you, even if it’s in a prayer group or some very intimate setting, we’re not 100% open. We can’t afford to be. It’s not your fault, it’s not our fault, it’s just a bad system that doesn’t allow pastors to be as human as it should. You can’t fix that, but you can have understanding and compassion for the man or woman who loves and serves you week after week, who counsels you and hears your confessions, and yet often has nowhere to go to get the same healing and relief.9. Ministry is a hard job.
Sometimes it’s said as a joke, sometimes it’s said in anger, that ministers don’t work very hard. That it’s a cushy gig. If that were true I doubt I’d know so many ministers who have quit swearing never to return, including myself. The best way I can think to explain why ministry is hard is to compare it to being the parent of a young child. From the outside it might not look like a lot of ‘work,’ but from the inside it’s the most exhausting thing you’ll ever do. Because it’s not just about the amount of things
you do, it’s the total emotional drain of it. It’s worrying all day every day about the people and programs you’re in charge of, being on call and not ever feeling really free to be away, feeling like you live in a fishbowl with hundreds of eyes watching you all the time and never really knowing what they are all thinking of you (unless they complain, which some of them do with regularity). It’s caring for people to the point that you have nothing left for your own family when you get home, yet expecting that they show a certain spiritually-put-together face to the church (because the church expects that). It’s often feeling empty, yet pretending to feel full. It’s presenting yourself and your work to hundreds of people, several times a week, for evaluation, and often getting no feedback except ‘constructive’ criticism. And after all of this, after years of this, it’s looking out at the people in your church and seeing little or no change. Ministry is very hard, albeit perhaps in a different way than your job is hard.10. We are more sensitive than you probably think.
Most ministers I know have one or two people in their congregations who send them stinky emails weekly, and another ten or fifteen who can be counted on to complain about things about once a month. Then of course there are handful of the angels, who hug and love and say encouraging things every week. But guess what. The people who complain are far more thorough and specific and persistent than those who encourage, and they
are the voices that keep us up at night feeling bad about ourselves, wondering if we suck at this. Most ministers have skin that is way thinner than their congregants think it is. We have
to be open and sensitive to you, because it’s you
we are charged with caring for. This means that the things you say to us can reach far deeper inside than they could otherwise. If you need to criticize your minister for something, please just be aware of this. Tread carefully, and with a lot of love and appreciation for her vulnerability. We are not above correction. Nobody is. But please make the extra effort to wrap it in as much care as you can.11. We care about you more than you can imagine.
The best moments of being a pastor for me, by far, were the times the ministers would gather for staff meetings and talk about the week ahead. Did we discuss worship and youth outings and air conditioning and budgets? Sure, for maybe twenty minutes. And then for three hours we’d talk about the people we were serving, what’s going on in their lives, and how we might help them. I always wished the whole church could be in those meetings and just see how much these people care, how much their hearts break for them, how much time and emotional energy they spend wanting to help them. Those meetings are my most sacred memories of church, because those were the moments when I saw men and women who had every reason not to care, to phone it in, to even be resentful. And yet, in spite of all of it, at the end of every day, they still cared, sometimes to the point of tears. You might have no idea how much.
This post was written by Mark Love. You can find the original post here: http://marklovefurniture.com/blog/2013/07/06/eleven-things-you-might-not-understand-about-your-minister/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
You would think that a church would be a place where a man could be kind. However, in this "modern" age, even at church one must be vigilant. One group of people that have reason to be vigilant are single mothers. Sexual predators tend to target these women. Hence, I decided to ask a single mother about how she responds to men who talks to her and her children in church. I was a bit surprised (positively) with her response.
"I like when all people pay attention to me and my children at church as this is a 'safe' place. I assume most people have the best intentions, therefore, I'm not hugely suspicious and take them at face value. I want my children to be in the company of strong Christian men of all ages and stages. I appreciate the ones that come alone probably more so as they are not coming to church 'for a woman', be it a girlfriend or a mother, but on their own accord. I want my boys to have a personal relationship with God, not vicariously through others, including a woman (me included!). I don't frequent singles groups at church so I haven't experienced many instances of 'creepiness'. Maybe I'm naïve, but any man praising God in His house is welcome to speak to me and my children.
I guess it depends on what they say too...Don't compliment anything on my person or any physical attribute. Do, however, compliment me on how impressed you are by my children, and say it where they can hear and can benefit from it as well."
A few conclusions I draw from her comments:
- Maybe some of my paranoia that my intentions would be misunderstood are unfounded
- This mother appreciates it when men take the time to recognize her children and comment positively on their behavior, noting that she wants her children to overhear such complements
- Men who praise God and come to church because they want to are the kinds of men that she wants to influence her children
BE A MAN.
God is aching for you to be one with Him, that He might use you. He wants to give you a voice in His kingdom. He wants to show you his power.
So when He defines His terms of sexual purity, don’t say, “God can’t possibly mean that!” because He does. Christ is looking to see where you can be trustworthy – capable of handling more for His Kingdom. Jesus says, “So if you have not been trustworthy in handling worldly wealth, who will trust you with true riches?”
If you aren’t trustworthy in handling fleshly passions, how can you be trusted to handle things of great value? Jesus said that if you were faithful in the little things, He would entrust you with bigger things. In this, God isn’t primarily referring to what He’s called you to do in His kingdom. He’s primarily concerned with what He’s called you to be in your character.
Maybe you’ve asked God to reveal His will for your life, but how are you doing with that “little” part of His will that He has already revealed to you?
Excerpted from Every Young Man’s Battle – pages 80-81BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
On business trips, I am often in consternation how to treat women, especially on the airplane. I have offered to help women put their luggage in the overhead bin only to be rebuffed. I have seen men jump over each other to help a frail young woman put her luggage in the overhead bin and I wonder "why can't she take care of herself?" Then I ask myself, "Am I honoring and respecting that young lady by letting her struggle on her own?" So, I thought that maybe I could enlist a woman's perspective.
I asked my older sister who spends the majority of her job on the road, flying in airplanes and staying in hotels. Here is her reply to my query (edited slightly with her permission):
"As a woman who travels on business a lot, I pack so that I can handle my own luggage --- always. I do not want to be dependent on anyone else. I don't know the intentions of those around me. And I must be careful giving out personal information to those I sit with. (like where I'm staying when out of town). I almost NEVER give out my business card. Unless I have made a really good connection that seems appropriate (usually with a woman, however -- and usually a connection about spiritual things.)
Regarding helping women with luggage on a plane, I would not assume the woman can't heft it into the overhead. However, if you see her looking around for help, I think that's an invitation to offer assistance. Just simply ask if you can help (with a smile) and accept her response either way. It shouldn't be a personal affront if she declines. But if you've waited until she appears to want help, then do so. Men sometimes help me pull luggage down from the overhead -- probably to keep me from bonking them on the head! I just say thank you and let it go. In an airplane, you're in a "community" that disbands as soon as you get off the plane.
Common courtesy and being polite is the order of the day, in my opinion -- without expectation and without taking a rebuff personally.
Be VERY careful with women traveling alone at hotels, in hotel restaurants, etc. I do not welcome any attempts at conversation in these instances. I am perfectly content to eat alone, and usually take my iPad so as to have something to occupy my time as I wait for the meal. I am not rude; just not welcoming at all. So, I would advise against any contact. (unless she falls on the floor and you help her up, etc....but that's different.)"
From my sister's response, I have gleaned a few things that are appropriate for men who want to respect and honor women:
1. A woman who is traveling is careful about the people around her. Hence, to inquire into a woman's personal information is not wise. It may give the wrong impression. If a woman freely gives that information, she is either not too savvy about the dangers of doing so or is wanting to have a relationship that extends beyond the airplane trip.
2. It's OK to ask if a woman wants help with her luggage, especially if she is telegraphing that she wants assistance. If she says she doesn't want help, there is no need to take it personally and that she thinks I am a dirty old man.
3. Flying together in a plane is a temporary "community." It operates long enough to get to the destination. Outside of the plane, there should rarely be continued contact.
4. There is no need to be overly friendly to women that are traveling alone. But there is also no need to be rude. Just be observant and if she is in obvious distress, then offer assistance (again if she declines help, don't take it personally).
I hope that this advice helps to spur you into thinking what it means to be a gentleman. A gentleman thinks of others and is mannerly.
What are your thoughts? Is there anything you would add about how to treat women in a business setting?
BE A MAN.
How do we know that we are not deluding ourselves, that we are not selecting those words that best fit our passions, that we are not just listening to the voice of our own imagination?...Who can determine if [our] feelings and insights are leading [us] in the right direction?
Our God is greater than our own heart and mind, and too easily we are tempted to make our heart’s desires and our mind’s speculations into the will of God. Therefore, we need a guide, a director, a counselor who helps us to distinguish between the voice of God and all other voices coming from our own confusion or from dark powers far beyond our control.
We need someone who encourages us when we are tempted to give it all up, to forget it all, to just walk away in despair. We need someone who discourages us when we move too rashly in unclear directions or hurry proudly to a nebulous goal. We need someone who can suggest to us when to read and when to be silent, which words to reflect upon and what to do when silence creates much fear and little peace.
This post is excerpted from Reaching Out by Henri Nouwen.
Here is the link for The Henri Nouwen Society: http://www.henrinouwen.orgBE HOLY.BE A MAN.
God has a battle to fight, and the battle is for our freedom. As Tremper Longman says, "Virtually every book of the Bible—Old and New Testaments—and almost every page tells us about God's warring activity." I wonder if the Egyptians who kept Israel under the whip would describe Yahweh as a Really Nice Guy? Plagues, pestilence, the death of every firstborn—that doesn't seem very gentlemanly, now, does it?
You remember that wild man, Samson? He's got a pretty impressive masculine résumé: killed a lion with his bare hands, pummeled and stripped thirty Philistines when they used his wife against him, and finally, after they burned her to death, he killed a thousand men with the jawbone of a donkey. Not a guy to mess with. But did you notice? All those events happened when "the Spirit of the LORD came upon him" Now, let me make one thing clear: I am not advocating a sort of "macho man" image. I'm not suggesting we all head off to the gym and then to the beach to kick sand in the faces of wimpy Pharisees.
I am attempting to rescue us from a very, very mistaken image we have of God—especially of Jesus—and therefore of men as his image-bearers. Dorothy Sayers wrote that the church has "very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah," making him "a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies." Is that the God you find in the Bible?
You can tell what kind of God you've got simply by noting the impact he has on you. Does he make you bored? Does he scare you with his doctrinal nazism? Does he make you want to scream because he's just so very nice? In the Garden of Gethsemane, in the dead of night, a mob of thugs "carrying torches, lanterns and weapons" comes to take Christ away. Note the cowardice of it—why didn't they take him during the light of day, down in the town?
Does Jesus shrink back in fear?
No, he goes to face them head-on.
This post is an excerpt from Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
BE A MAN.